Complete Guide to Spectrum Games – Part 13

Superstition’s a pretty stupid thing, I’m sure most of you will agree. I’m happy to walk under ladders, cross the paths of black cats and let them cross mine. I’ve never thrown any salt anywhere (apart from the little sachets they give you in Miss Milly’s) and the only time I knock on wood is when I hit my head on my desk while fiddling around with cables underneath it. But you know what? When it comes to reviewing ancient and mostly terrible games, thirteen seems like a bad omen.

Aliquid SimplexYour Computer, 1984

See that weird square thing? The square face with legs? That’s Professor Hilfe, that is. His lab’s had some sort of fire-starting power failure, and the only way to save it is by fixing his broken robot, which has had its parts scattered all over the shop. This would be a lot simpler were it not for the Jet Set Willy rejects roaming the lab’s halls.

So, it’s a bit like Pac-Man, only with six pills to collect rather than a jillion. It’s not the worst game in the world, at least until you hit level two, which is exactly the same as level one only with different-looking baddies. The maze was blatantly put together in about five minutes, too, so it’s not like it’s a carefully balanced playing field like Pac-Man’s. Also, the collision detection is straight out of Super Sprint*, and thus rubbish.

*But I’ll tell you about that later. Much, much later.

Alkerk2004Jatekgyaros, 2004

Well, that’s an interesting name. Let’s load it up and see what… Oh no.

The developer name should’ve been a giveaway, really. Alright, let’s see what we can get out of it… It’s a puzzle game of some sort. It looks like Go or Reversi or something, but pieces keep disappearing for no real reason I can fathom. If you know what game it is though, I’m sure it’s a lot more interesting. It’s a bit slow on the screen updates though, and I can’t be the only person who absolutely hates typing in grid coordinates. I’ll have to give this one jatekos out of jatek.

All-American BasketballZeppelin, 1992

Y’know, maybe it’s just me being spoilt by a decade of PC use, and hours of research into user interface design (no, really), but there’s nothing like an unnumbered, uninformative menu screen with no guide to how to use it to make you realise that things really have improved quite a lot in computer games.

Still, I battled my way through the horrendous menu system (it turns out that it defaults to the Sinclair joystick, for some reason – did anyone use those? Weren’t they all uniformly terrible? I remember the SJS-1 I got with my +2 was a worthless, wobbly piece of crap, and after getting an SJS-2 recently I was quite disappointed that things never improved) to get to the game itself.

As you can see, it looks just like Match Day. It controls an awful lot like Match Day too. These things are good. The ‘tackling’ system, though, is awful. Here’s what happens – you pick up the ball. The Speccy starts making a slightly too rhythmic ‘bounce’ effect that actually sounds like somebody with a squeaky trainer on an overpolished floor. The computer will walk a player right into you, and take the ball. You’ll try to replicate the feat and walk back into him. The computer will carry on strolling down the pitch – er, court – and score a goal. Basket. You’ll pick up the ball and attempt to walk it back to the opponent’s basket, only to have a computer player immediately walk into you, take the ball and score all in one fluid motion.

It’s not really a game, more of a lesson in humility and why you shouldn’t buy anything with a flag on it.

All or NothingAbbex Electronics, 1984

When I were a lad, I’d occasionally get the odd game that would make mention of the Currah uSpeech. It became sort of a mythic object, like the leprechaun or the unicorn or the disk drive. I always, always wanted one, but I’ve never managed to get hold of one. I’ve never even seen a Currah uSpeech, not even on eBay. (Which I still trawl through regularly in the vain hopes of seeing a Judge Dredd tape. Or disk, I don’t care.)

But now, thanks to the wonders of modern technology, I can at last hear the glorious tones of the Currah uSpeech through the joys of emulation. Unfortunately despite All or Nothing’s claim to support the uSpeech, it doesn’t actually seem to and I’ve wasted twenty minutes trying to make it work. Equally unfortunately, making the uSpeech say naughty words was at least three times more entertaining than this spectacularly easy game.

The goal is simple. You’re parachuted into an enemy base filled with dogs and guards, and you have just one goal – you MUST find your WATCH. It seems to be a bit of an early sandbox game; once you’ve found your watch, you’re not given anything else to do, so you just wander around the enemy base until the dogs and guards catch up and kill you, trying to make your own fun.

Or perhaps I’ve missed something?

All Time Great Tour 1Lambourne Games, 1992

Worst safe-cracking simulator ever.

El AlmacenMicrohobby, 1985

Oh wow! It’s an unofficial conversion of that Nintendo Game & Watch where Mario and Luigi have to pack bottles and load them onto a truck! If only I’d been given, say, any blimming information at all as to what the controls might be before the game started and instantly dumped everything on the floor before I could figure out how to move. Wouldn’t that have been nice? I might not have given the game -37 out of ten for taunting me with a nice looking version of a game I JUST CAN’T PLAY. Grr.

Almacen LunarMicrohobby, 1986

See that? I’ve seen that screen six times now. It’ll alternate between that and a picture of a spaceman. It looks like maybe you can move the spaceman, but half the keys I press seem to return me to this screen. Perhaps there’s some super secret code I need, like in All Time Great Tour 1?

Alma de GuerreroBeyker Soft, 2003

Oh no, not that sound. That sound only means one thing – crap game ahoy!

Actually it’s not that crap. It’s a RPG sort of a thing, which normally I like, only this one has Japanese-style random encounters. Y’know, where you’ll be walking quite happily through a field or something, and then the game stops dead and tells you that you’ve run into a monster and you have to fight it, even though the field was completely empty and if you’d seen a monster you’d have run away because you’ve been fighting random monsters for three hours now and you’d like to just get on with the story bit, please.

Yeah, it’s one of those. It’s also in Spanish, so it can’t even draw me in with the story thanks to my monolinguism. If you like Final Fantasy style games though, this is actually worth a look even if you don’t understand Spanish – the combat system is so simple I’ve managed to fight a monster and win. Also, it’s the first real game I’ve played in the last half hour, so eight out of ten. Hurrah!

Alo BaoLoad’n’Run, 1985

Well this game’s ahead of it’s time. I had to sit through three slow, unskippable splash screens before I got to the main menu.

It’s a driving game, of sorts. The controls are tricky, and I kept breaking the car by running into walls. But it is fast (too fast for me, obviously) and it does have a split-screen two player mode. Therefore it gets nine out of ten, even though I don’t have a second player to hand, because even a terrible two player game is more fun than an average single player one.

Alpha 1Stefan Wisskirchen, 1984

Imagine Space Invaders, only one alien at a time and with horrible beepy sound ‘effects’. That is this game. I could be playing Left 4 Dead, you know?

Alpha-RaidVideo Showcase, 1984

A simple letter-matching game. I’m so glad that nobody actually thought stuff like this was educational when I was a kid.

Alpine GamesAtlantis, 1987

I remember, back in ’87, I got Winter Games. It was quite good, and since the Summer Games Challenge from way back when, Jon and I have been meaning to play it as a follow-up. This… This is a cheap and shoddy knock-off. In fact, ‘shoddy’ gives it too much credit. I’m the kind of guy who is too lazy to type in LOAD””, especially when I have to pick a different menu item to do it. It’s a good way to quickly pick out crappy BASIC games given a full release though.

Look at that mess. Look at it. It’s supposed to be the Ski Jump event. It’s crap. And this next one, take a look…

It’s skiing, only nothing’s moving. I’m hammering away at the keys just like it told me, and the skiier’s arms are moving, but his body isn’t moving, and the scenery is moving very slowly, so what’s supposed to be going on? The worst thing is that while I was playing Winter Games, some other more sod was stuck with this crap. Tch.

And speaking of crap, I think I’ve suffered quite enough today. Next up – it’s Altered Beast to Amaurote.


  1. “The worst thing is that while I was playing Winter Games, some other more sod was stuck with this crap.”

    Even worse.. the next time you get to play Winter Games, the other poor sod will probably be dead.

  2. Super Sprint was quite good, actually. Apart from the collision detection which made you crash into invisible walls, of course. Even Giancarlo Fisichella only crashes into real ones.

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